Media Center Laptops

Review: With so many great Media Center features, why would you even think about buying a plain old system? These three span the price range. (

In addition to being capable PCs, Media Center notebooks are extremely talented multimedia hubs great for organizing and storing your photos, music, movies, and home videos.

You can watch and record live television. Part of the magic is done through Windows XP MCE (Media Center Edition) 2005, the OS running these machines, but there are more features to examine. Of course youll also need to settle on a price you can live with.

A good example of a high-end Media Center laptop is Toshibas Qosmio G35-AV600 ($2,400), our Editors Choice winner. On the other end of the spectrum is Dells M140, which can be had for as low as $749.

When shopping for a Media Center laptop, several elements should factor into your decision. First, choose one with a bright, high-contrast screen, also known as a transflective or a glossy display.

Companies have proprietary names for this screen technology. Sony calls its XBrite, whereas Dell likes the term Ultrasharp, and Acer uses CrystalBrite.

Designed with TV and movie viewing in mind, these screens tend to generate a greater amount of glare than standard TFT displays. Not a problem when catching the latest DVD, but could potentially be an annoyance if youre using it under bright fluorescents or outdoors. As for screen size, you want something with a widescreen, and 15.4-inches (measured diagonally) is a very good place to start.

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